Man’yoshu And Kokinshu Essay

1482 words - 6 pages

Man’yōshū is also known as the collection of ten thousand leaves but in a more literary and poetic sense could be portrayed as ten thousand generations. It is also seen as the earliest official oldest and greatest anthologies of Japanese poetry. Regardless of its name (could be seen as ten thousand poems) it actually only is composed of about 4,500 waka or 20 poem books. One distinction that could be made despite its popularity is it has no preface. Man’yōshū stands out because of its possession of passion, sincerity (or Makoto 真), pleasantness and most of all, it is really straightforward and to the point. In estimate, there are over 400 poets who are in most of the poems but half are anonymous. It is also well known for its wide range of social status among the authors which is a very rare case. Some authors come from the imperial family while others are just farmers or peasants. In fact the majority of the authors are not courtiers or of high status ranking officials. Then again they could be courtiers writing like commoners in disguise. There are many authors that are involved in the compilation of Man’yōshū such as Lady Kasa, Lady Ōtome, Emperor Yūryaku, Yamanoue no Okura, Yamabe no Akihito, and Princess Nukata, Kasa no Kanamura, Takahashi no Mushimaro but the major contributor would be Ōtomo no Yakamochi while the most important poet goes to Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. The last 4 books were created by Yakamochi, each containing notes on how the poems were written. Princess Nakata focused mainly of the two major seasons of spring and autumn; Yamanoue no Okura wrote most of his poems on social concerns of the public and made few on love and nature while Kakinomoto no Hitomaro worked on his own collection (Hitomaro kashū) and public poems where most considered his poetry most natural and complex. Public events with emotions along with involvement of parallelism and makurakotoba were his fortes as well. Ōtomo no Yakamochi had many love poems with women involved along with his diary and first introduction to Man’yōshū of the concept of “elegant confusion”. Finally Yamabe no Akahito composed many poems on nature such as national landmarks and favorite poems including births, deaths and ceremonies. (MYS Handout 3) Majority of the poems are in chōka form and have a hanka (tankas) that is added at the end. Man’yōshū was also a result of Japanese people’s urges to get satisfication in the form of history records during the Nara period. In addition Man’yōshū was the first anthology poetry to have makurakotoba (枕詞) in its poems. It seems that makurakotoba was a popular metaphor or fixed epithet commonly used to express nature, famous places, and/or other imageries. Parallelism and repetition were the frequently used poetic devices used to often express the author’s feelings and emotions. Most of the poems are waka which is divided into categories of chōka, tōka, sōmonka (love), zōka, banka and the more commonly used 31-syllable tanka form. Zōka are...

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